For the next few months, we’ll be hanging our (warm winter) hats in Oberammergau, a village situated in Germany’s Alps, where residents sometimes still sport traditional feather-adorned, green woolen hats and custom-tailored Lederhosen, while they hail passersby with a hearty Grüß Gott (literally ‘Greet God’) and warm smiles. Oberammergau is perhaps best known for its Holzschnitzer (woodcarvers), colorful frescoes (known locally as Lüftlmalerei), and Passion Play, which is held once every ten years.
During a Black Death (bubonic plague) epidemic that swept the area in the 1630s, Oberammergau lost many inhabitants. As the story goes, Oberammergau residents pledged to perform a passion play regularly, if God spared them further ravages of the Black Death. The first play was held in 1634, and today, more than 2,000 villagers take part in all aspects of its production. During its five-month run, which takes place in years ending with zero, Oberammergau’s Passion Play attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all corners of the world. The Passion Play will next be held in Oberammergau in 2020.
In the last autumn weekend before winter arrived on the scene, we took to the streets of Oberammergau, admiring the frescoes (which largely feature religious or natural themes), the choir of the church bells on the hour, and the rolling green hills and their furry inhabitants. Though a few roses and autumn flora held on late in the season, it was apparent winter was waiting in the wings. Most yards were well-stocked with meticulously-cut lumber, and some residents were already donning woolen knee-socks.
Thank goodness we’ve found some delightful Bäckerei and cafés* in which to warm ourselves up with piping-hot pumpkin soups and crusty breads.
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.